5 Costly Mistakes Executors Make In Probate
If you have been chosen to act as an executor of an estate, you need to understand that a single mistake during the probate process can have serious negative consequences. For example, some mistakes can lead to you being held personally liable. As probate lawyers, we have seen executors make many different mistakes that have resulted in them being held personally responsible for costs that they did not expect. We have also seen executors make mistakes that have ended up seriously affecting their well-being. We do not want you to make these mistakes.
Below are five costly mistakes executors make in probate. Ensure you do not make any of these mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not Understanding Probate and the Role of an Executor Before Beginning the Probate Process
Some executors begin the probate process without first doing their homework and learning about probate and their role as an executor. It is crucial for you to understand who an executor is, what the role of an executor is in probate, and the probate process in general, before beginning to do your job. Remember, serving as an executor comes with serious legal liability.
If you feel the role of an executor is too much for you to handle, you don’t have to accept the nomination.
Mistake #2: Not Asking for Help
According to Rule 5.030, every personal representative (unless the personal representative is the sole beneficiary) is required to be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida. However, unless you are an attorney, it is advisable that you hire a lawyer, even in a situation where you are not legally obligated to hire one. The Florida probate process is complex for most executors to handle without legal help.
Mistake #3: Trying to Rush the Probate Process
First of all, rushing the probate process can result in legal liability. If you try to go through the probate process too fast, the decedent’s beneficiaries may accuse you of acting in “bad faith.” As the personal representative, you are required to act in “good faith.” Also, trying to rush through the probate process can take a toll on your mental well-being, especially if the decedent was a loved one. It is crucial that you take time to grieve the loss of your loved one and take care of yourself.
Mistake #4: Not Maintaining Communication with Beneficiaries
At the beginning of the probate process, you need to communicate with beneficiaries and ensure that you are all on the same page. During the probate process, ensure you communicate every progress and setback to beneficiaries as clearly and timely as possible. Communicating effectively with beneficiaries can help manage their expectations. Open communication can also prevent misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict.
Mistake #5: Disobeying Court’s Instructions or the Law
Everything you do while performing your executor duties must be in accordance with the law and the Court’s instructions. For example, you need to ensure that you notify creditors, pay debts, and distribute assets in accordance with the law and/or Court’s orders. No matter how tempted you might feel, you should never disobey a court order or the law.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Probate Attorney
If you were named the executor of a Will, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale probate attorney at Joyce A. Julian, P.A. for legal help. We can help you with the probate process and ensure you don’t make mistakes that could result in you being held personally liable or affect your well-being.